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What Is The Star Method For Answering Interview Questions

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Problem Solving Example For Your Star Answer

How to use the STAR method to answer interview questions

Competency Question: Tell me about a time when you used your initiative to resolve a complex problem. What was involved and what actions did you take?


Last year while working as Customer Focus Manager with ABC Products Ltd in London, I successfully implemented a new process which reduced the time taken to process customer refunds from 14 days to 2 days, saving over £100,000 annually in agent time and gaining a 50% uplift in customer approval ratings.

In that single opening they are hooked, they know what your story is about, they know you have done something great and they want to hear more.


The next part of the answer is the Task and this should be summarised in no more than 1 or 2 sentences.

Our customer refund process was taking 14 days and was using up an excessive amount of agent time and resources. I was tasked with reducing this to 2 days with the added benefit of saving time and resources.

Thats all they need to know no more.


I initiated the project by firstly clearly defining the objectives and the procedures.

I created a detailed brief that both analysed the problem and outlined the potential benefits of the newly proposed process.

I completed a walk-through of the existing system and identified where problems were occurring.

With all that knowledge, I designed a new process and drafted a brief which I then forwarded to four software companies who specialise in the system we needed.


How To Use The Star Interview Technique

The STAR method helps you organize your experiences, and the lessons you learned from them, into concise, impactful stories. By hitting on each of the letters, youll remember what to include in your response.

A few top tips for answering behavioral interview questions using the STAR interview method:

  • Be concise. Two minutes or less is a good guideline.
  • Stay positive. No one wants to hear a story about failure in an interview, unless it ends with an important life lesson.
  • Stay focused. Dont go off on a tangent everything you share should be relevant to the job.
  • Be honest. Behavioral interviewing often requires the interviewer to drill down and ask more questions. Made-up experiences can trip you up. Plus, lying is bad.

Okay, lets craft a sample STAR response. The great thing about STAR responses is that they can be applied to many different questions, but well start simple. Lets say youre looking at an internship helping a finance team with reporting. The interviewer asks, Can you tell me about your experience with Excel?

For this example, well assume you have . And thats no problem! You still have transferable skills from school. Think about a time when you used Excel for a class project. Then, refer to the STAR letters to craft the perfect response.

Heres what STAR stands for:

Now, lets put it all together:

Lets look at a couple of other STAR examples.

Sample question:

Sample STAR response 1:

Lets do one more.

Sample question:

Sample STAR response 2:

Tell Me About A Mistake You’ve Made How Did You Handle It

“I was working as an intern for a large insurance company and was responsible for hosting one of the quarterly meetings with all of the top-level executives. Part of hosting the meeting included booking flights and hotels for those coming in from out of town. I mixed up the dates for one of the airline bookings and didn’t realize it until the last minute.

Once I had realized the mistake, I called the executive who was going to be taking the flight and let them know of my mistake. I spent the entire morning on the phone with the travel agent and the airline getting the flights changed. Thankfully they had one seat left and the executive was able to make it in time for the meeting.”

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How To Use The Star Method In Your Next Job Interview

Here at RECRUITERS, were experts when it comes to interviews, both from an employers point of view looking to conduct the perfect interview and from a candidates point of view hoping to land their dream job.

One of the most important methods answering interview questions is the STAR method. For competency-based interviews, this method of answering questions is absolutely vital and will be exactly what the interviewer is looking for. However, even in more casual or informal interview questions, the STAR method is the most direct way to demonstrate your skills and leave the interviewer feeling assured that youre up to the job.

Question: When You Were Overly Tasked How Did You Prioritize

Pin by Amanda Mizell on interview
  • Situation: It was a perfect storm. I had a deadline beating down on me. There was another team member who couldnt start his task until I finished mine, and there was a bad flu going around. A lot of people were out sick as a dog. My manager had to saddle me with their work on top of my own, and their tasks were just as critical and time-sensitive.
  • Task: It was clear that if I was going to keep us on our production schedule, I had to prioritize. The first thing I did was list everything I was expected to do.
  • Action: Then I looked at which of those tasks were dependent on another. They were of highest priority, because if I neglected them, I would be blocking other team members and jeopardizing the timeline for the project. There were other tasks that were not as important, so they went to the bottom of my list. I began working on the high priority ones, seeking help from others when it was available, and working through lunch, of course. I wasnt leaving the office until those tasks were complete. I managed to finish the most important ones and even had time to get the less critical ones done.
  • Result: The project didnt suffer a setback! I was able to learn from the experience how much I need to always be prioritizing, so I have a clear path through my day about what must be done and what can wait another day.

Also Check: What Questions To Expect In A Second Interview

Telling A Story That Is Anything But A Success

You want the job, right? So why would you tell a story where you fail miserably and learn absolutely nothing from the experience? While it might be a funny story overall, its not one thats going to get you a job. Telling a story that has absolutely no positive outcome, either from the final results or the lessons you learned, is pointless.just like hiring you.

Now you might be thinking, Mike, this is common sense. I would not tell a story that makes me look bad. Heres the deal though. Sometimes, what starts out as great intentions, can unravel before you know it. If the hiring manager decides to probe into your story, you need to be certain that he/she is not going to encourage you to reveal something you did not intend.

So despite what we said about not speaking like a robot stick to the script!

Happens Can Communicate Answering Star Interview To Questions Method Seems Remarkable

The STAR technique is a brilliant and simple way for answering tough behavioral interview questions. The main purpose of the STAR technique/method is to make sure you give the interview panel solid/evidence-based answers to the situational-type. May 17, · Top 5 Tips For Getting the Most out of STAR. 1. Be prepared. I know we said this above, but it really is the essence of the method. Going in with a solid set of S.T.A.R. targeted interview stories 2. Be specific. 3. Be quantitative. star. Be concise. 5. Be honest! Occupation: . Jan 30, · The STAR method is a technique of answering behavioral interview questions in a structured manner by describing a specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are discussing. The STAR method helps you explain in a simple yet powerful way how you handled specific work situations and challenges/5.

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Use The Star Method To Shine In Your Interview

Congratulations, you got the interview! But, how do you wow the interviewer with your stellar skills and experience without sounding inauthentic? Standing out from a crowded pack of applicants can be difficult, but there are ways to show potential employers that youre a qualified candidate. The STAR method of interviewing can be an important tool for providing context behind the major wins in your career.

Whats more, not only will the STAR interview method help you stand out, its also an effective way to show the interviewer that youve got the skills for the joband the results to prove it.

Types Of Interview Questions

How To Use The STAR Method To Answer Interview Questions

Before digging deeper into what the STAR method is and how it works, it is important to understand the different types of interview questions that are commonly asked. Two of the most popular types of interview questions are situational interview questions and behavioral interview questions.

Situational interview questions are questions that place an interviewee in a hypothetical situation. These types of questions aim to help interviewers understand how you would react in a particular situation, even if youve never experienced it before. One such example would be the question, Youve made a mistake that no one else noticed. What would you do in such a situation?

These situational-based questions can be helpful for managers when interviewing applicants who have no prior experience in the industry that theyre seeking a job in. These are also considered to be future-oriented situations that interviewers anticipate you may face, should you be offered this role.

On the contrary, behavioral interview questions are part-oriented. Instead of placing interviewees in a hypothetical situation, you will be asked to describe a situation from your past experiences, often requiring you to describe situations from your previous job.

According to hiring managers we work with, most of their successful candidates adopt the STAR method of answering to tackle behavioral interview questions effectively.

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Tell Me About A Time When You Had Too Many Things To Do And You Were Required To Prioritize Your Tasks

In my previous job as a senior sales executive, one of my co-workers quit immediately after we were told our assigned territories would be doubling in the next month.

Although I was already managing a full load of accounts in my territories, I was assigned the territories of my departed co-worker to handle as well.

After some deep breaths, I sat down and mapped out all of my territories and how much time they required both to maintain current clients and approach new ones–and I knew my performance would suffer. It was too much for one person.

I then went to my boss with this data along with a well-laid-out plan of how to divide the old sales person’s territory among several of our current reps until we could hire someone new. That way we all got a piece of the pie and one person didn’t have to be overwhelmed.

My boss took this to the VP of Sales who was impressed with my plan and approved it. About three months later we hired two new sales executives, and I was promoted to Assistant VP of Sales in my division.

Mastering The Rest Of The Interview Process

Now that youve adequately prepared for the behavioral round, its time to triumph over the rest of the interview process. From tips on auditing your digital footprint to preparing for video interviews, we are here to help you with every step of your journey. Visit our 2020 Job Search Guide to continue your expedition.

Kforce is a professional solutions firm specializing in building and managing elite teams within Technology and Finance & Accounting with top employers nationwide. Merging your vision and our expertise, we help you achieve powerful results.

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How To Use The Star Technique For Answering Interview Questions

The STAR technique is a brilliant and simple way for answering tough behavioral interview questions. The main purpose of the STAR technique/method is to make sure you give the interview panel solid/evidence-based answers to the situational-type interview questions that are being asked.

The STAR technique is best used for interview questions that start off with:

Tell me about at time when you

Explain a situation you in where you

Can you give an example of when you

Describe a time when you

The basic principles of the STAR interview method are as follows:

SITUATION Start off by explaining to the interview panel the exact situation you were in.

TASK Once you have explained the situation, move on and tell the panel what the task was you needed to complete.

ACTION Then, once you have outlined the task, move on to explain to the interview panel the action you took, and also the action other people took who were involved in the situation. The action element of the STAR technique is usually the most comprehensive.

RESULT Finally, move on a explain what the results were following the action you took, and also the action other people took.

The beauty of utilising the STAR technique when answering interview questions is that it ensures you provide specific evidence and proof that you can perform the competency being assessed.

Star Interview Question Examples

Use The STAR Technique to Ace Your Behavioral Interview

Here are a few examples of common behavioral questions you might be asked during an interview:

  • Have you ever had to make an unpopular decision? How did you handle it?
  • Describe a time when you were under a lot of pressure at work. How did you react?
  • Tell me about a mistake youve made. How did you handle it?
  • Explain a situation where you used data or logic to make a recommendation.
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss. How did you resolve it?
  • Describe a time when you had to deliver bad news. How did you do it?
  • Tell me about a time you worked with other departments to complete a project.
  • Tell me about a time when you set and achieved a specific goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to do something.
  • Describe a time when you had a conflict with a colleague. How did you handle it?
  • Have you ever had to motivate others? How did you do it?
  • Tell me about the last time your workday ended before you were able to get everything done.

Related Article: How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

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How To Master The Star Method

To master this technique and use it to your best advantage, you absolutely must take the time to prepare your answers using relevant scenarios from previous work roles. It’s never a good idea to try answering off the top of your head when you’re nervous. Be honest and don’t embellish your story to make it sound better. Stand on your own accomplishments.

As a first step, review your past jobs for examples of when you successfully managed a project, handled a difficulty, exceeded your goals, provided strong leadership, or anything else that highlights your skills and abilities. Next, work through how to present these successes using the STAR interview method, as outlined below.

If any of your stories describe a mistake or failure, talk about what you learned and/or what you did to ensure a better result in the future. This can give a good example of how well you face and recover from adversity. Never use a story that will only show you in a negative light.

It’s best to have several stories ready for the interview, but be ready to adapt them as needed based on the question asked and the position you’re after. Your answers should always relate to the job at hand.

Forcing A Situation To Fit

Of course, youve been practicing before your interview. And, youve probably come up with a few examples of success you can use during the interview using the STAR method.

However, its easy to think, well, one of these stories will work, when, in fact, they wont. Rather than listening to the question and coming up with an answer on the spot, you may be tempted to use one of your practice answers and hope it works.

But, instead of demonstrating to the interviewer that youve got what it takes, all it shows is that you arent listening and dont really have the skills they want.

Its better to say something like, Well, Ive never encountered that before. But, if I had, heres what I would do, then use the STAR method to explain how you would deal with it, using examples of what you have done in similar situations.

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The Significant Accomplishment Question

The single most important question that you will answer in every interview is the significant accomplishment question: Tell me about the most significant accomplishment in your life. What challenges did you face? What did you do? How did it impact your organization? An interviewer may pose this question as one of these variations: Tell me something you are most proud of,Share the one thing you want me to know, or, Tell me something from your past that you are really excited about.

If theres one question that you should prepare for, its this significant accomplishment question. Here is a sample answer:

The accomplishment that I am most proud of was being named Consultant of the Year by Acme Medical Systems in 2002. When I worked as a product development consultant at Indigo, a team of Acme Medical Systems designers hired me to develop the plastic prototype of a new Computed Tomography scanner. Acme wanted to display their new cardiac scanner to their vice president who was visiting the following week. In preparation, I was asked to help develop the prototype of the CT-scanners new keyboard.

The end-result was that the prototype was prepared in half the lead-time and 40% under budget, even after paying the suppliers overtime. In addition, my modular design lowered manufacturing costs by 20% when the CT-scanner went into production. In recognition of my hard work and cost savings, Acme honored me among sixteen contenders with the Consultant of the Year award.

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